Enough Time To… Battle SpamBots!

Mr. ETT Battles the SpamBots
Mr. ETT Battles the SpamBots

Pew pew pew!

Ladies, gentlemen, and other assorted passengers, this is your Captain speaking. We are interrupting our scheduled journey to reassure you the sights and sounds you are currently experiencing are all part of normal operations of the “Enough Time” Machine. We take the safety and security of our passengers very seriously.

After only 3 weeks and as many stops at port, we have some unauthorised passengers attempting to board – SpamBots. And although Mr. ETT’s shooting skills are top-notch, the current scourge requires an upgrade to the “Enough Time” Machine itself, to allow him to return to re-aligning the warp core.

All About SpamBots

Yes, the SpamBots have found us. According to Sophos Labs, SpamBots are “the money-making machinery of modern cybercrime”. SpamBots are snippets of code script that automatically crawl the Internet, looking for places they can deposit their spam-generating payloads. Some of these places include comments and contact forms on blogs. Why would they do this? Firstly, they are automated and regular, so once set up, there is no effort or cost on the part of the perpetrator. By spamming your blog, they try to generate traffic to their own site by adding hyperlinks, which boosts their SEO rankings. There may be more nefarious outcomes as well, whereby anyone clicking on those links (such as your loyal readers) could install spyware (which looks through all the files on your computer, steals the important stuff and sells it), keyloggers (steals login and password details), or enable the crooks to compromise your social media profile. All of a sudden, without your knowledge, “you” are Facebooking or Twittering spammy links to all of your friends and followers. Not happy, Jan!

Not Happy, Jan!
Not Happy, Jan!

For your enjoyment, here are some of the witty, considered compliments spammy comments left by the bots (all have been re-typed by me in plain text, so there is absolutely no link to the original).

“That’s the smart thinking we could all benefit from”
“You have my apipceration”
“Sharp thninikg! Thanks for the answer”
“That’s really thniiking at a high level!”
“I think you have put your finger of one of the great puzzles…I think you would find it worthwhile to read the book…at least one person in their enresonmintv”

Armour Up…

So, how do we combat this? The first place to start is Akismet (which would be the plugin that has been sitting in our WordPress Dashboard, just waiting for me to get around to researching what it does.) Turns out, this is the tool we need!

SpamBot Attempts
Those Naughty SpamBots!

Everything you need to know about Akismet is available on their website, or if you would like the TL;DR approach, try this post on WPBeginner.

There are also other plugins, both free and paid, that will work alongside Akismet, using different methods. I’m not sure of the wisdom of publishing the solution I use for this blog, on this blog, so all I will say at the moment is do your research – there are plenty of articles comparing WordPress Anti-Spam plugins. If you do absolutely nothing else, when beginning your blog, make sure you hold all comments for moderation. Being a naturally suspicious person, that was one of the first settings I enabled. Of course, we are always looking for witty, considered compliments feedback from our regular passengers.

This is not what I was planning on learning about WordPress last weekend, but it appears that blogging, like budgeting, doesn’t always go to plan. You have to be ready to roll with the punches. Stay tuned next week when we return to our usual itinerary, and analyse the results of the reading experiment.

How long did it take for the SpamBots to try your blog? Do you have any other tips or tricks for protecting the “Enough Time” Machine?

Time well spent this trip…
Book: Great Radio Detectives by Various Writers
Comic: Pathfinder – City of Secrets
Tabletop RPG: Pathfinder Eberron
Game (Mr. ETT): World of Tanks
Mission: HTML/CSS

2 thoughts on “Enough Time To… Battle SpamBots!

  1. Akismet is great and stops tons of spam for us. If you ever want a silicone wristband, SEO plug ins or even animal sex pics, just give us a buzz – we can hook you up with many, many people who will provide these services for you.

    Tristan

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